29 September 2015, Warri – National Coordinator of the Host Communities of Nigeria, HOSTCOM, Prince Okareme Maikpobi, has urged the governor of Delta State, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa and Delta State House of Assembly not to meddle with funds legitimately due to the Delta State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission, DESOPADEC, in the on-going re-appraisal of the state’s 2015 budget.
Maikpobi, who spoke to Niger Delta Voice, said, “It has come to our notice that Delta state government has sent the budget of 2015 to the House of Assembly for readjustment and the principal reason we are told is to review downwards the amount approved by the immediate past government under Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan.”
He said, “The House of Assembly has already set up an ad hoc committee headed by a first termer, Hon. Ibori to review the budget and report back to the House within the next few weeks.
“Of particular concern to us is the section of the budget that has to do with the DESOPADEC board for 2015, which is being reduced drastically by more than N10 billion. A budget of about N42 billion is now being reduced to N32 billion, which is something unacceptable to us.”
Purported bid to slash fund from N50b to N32b
He asserted, “The original budget for DEDOPADEC was an improvement on what was approved for 2013 and 2014. In 2014, it was about N39 billion, it was about N37 billion in 2013. The law is clear; it is only DESOPADEC that has first line charge because the law has fixed whatever amount goes to DESOPADEC.”
“That law stipulates 50 per cent of whatever accrues to the state from 13 per cent derivation. So far this year, on a monthly average, it is about N8 billion per month. That is to say that we expect about N100 billion for 2015”
Maikpobi added, “If that what is being expected, on what basis will the government now reduce DEDOPADEC budget to N32 billion. That is unacceptable like I said to the oil producing communities. If there is going to be adjustment at all, it should be on basis of actual derivation that has come to the state from January to December from derivation decided by two, so half of it should go to DESOPADEC. So by current realities, DESOPADEC budget should not be less than N50 billion. It can never be N32 billion.”
Disregarding interests of oil communities
He disclosed, “We just had a meeting on the matter. It was resolved that a letter should be forwarded to the governor while another one will go the House of Assembly to put them on notice that they must not do anything to undermine the law on DESOPADEC. “Any alteration at should be based on the law. The actual figures of what came until date divided by two is what belongs to DEDOPADEC. The oil communities will not accept anything less.”
His words, “The governor should be well advised not to do anything to undermine the interest of the host communities. The essence of derivation is to better the lot of oil producing communities so for us to have accepted, in the interim, half of it for total usage, we are magnanimous enough that the governor should not make us to insist on getting the whole money immediately.
“Ultimately we will get the whole money, we have made presentations to the Presidency because the derivation, like I mentioned, is entirely for oil producing communities. All leaders of the communities are in agreement with that.
“The essence is to take care of the oil producing communities; it is the method that is being fine tuned. Agreed as at today, the communities are not a tier of government for revenue sharing, but the essence of this money is for the people. “That is why we said that for now, so long as the state government has set up a commission backed by law, which says whatever accrues to the state, half of it should be given to DESOPADEC, the law should be respected pending when the Revenue Commission officially releases its recommendation,” he asserted.